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The Fever

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After she left me, I was in a fever.

I wanted chaos. I wanted never ending darkness. I tore down the curtains, clawed at the wall paper and I screamed, inhuman sounds that ripped from deep inside me. My thoughts came scattered and too loud, in a language I could barely understand. The tears flowed constant, boiling and acidic, so that they scorched my cheeks and made my eyes swell and bleed. They carved through my flesh where they landed; they lit fire to the carpets.

My head pounded and throbbed, as if my skull was too tight around my brain, squeezing the life from me, busting blood vessels and constricting thought. My throat hitched and ached, tossing up bile and horrible, keening sounds, straining so that I was sure all those little cords and bones would snap and shatter. My chest didn’t allow air; I threw myself around the apartment violently, a marionette with cut strings, still struggling to dance. My flesh burned, and I sweated out her memory; it gushed from my pores.

The agony became something entirely physical, my mind removed from the equation. Every thought became pain. Each feeling was a scream. My loss was the burning fever.

Now, I know why. She left me with three long scars, with depth and colour unbefitting of the tiny hand that created them. The last night we spent together, as I screamed my climax into her open mouth, her fingernails tore through the flesh on my shoulder, lighting a fire inside me. I’d never have known it, but she was on the cusp of the change, with her glittering eyes and little white teeth. She laughed as I looked with surprise at the blood on my arm. It rolled across my heaving chest before she licked it away.

Three long scars, and a warning: “Watch out for the moon, baby girl. She’s gonna get ya.” That was all she left for me.

I was almost disappointed to find that the great sickness I had suffered in her absence had explanation; I preferred when it was the roar of my loss, the churning swell of my pain taking over my body and tearing it apart. Waking after that first transformation, I felt lost. The calm, quiet clarity in my brain was an unwelcome stranger. I longed for the storm of my loneliness, somehow so much easier to comprehend. The fever brain that had afflicted me had made it all so bearable; when it faded, my agony was too logical. It cut with newly sharpened edges.

I know we weren’t perfect, but I can feel her absence. It left a hole inside, a vacuum that threatens to turn me inside out. I’d do anything, anything, to fill that empty space. I’d swallow down a thousand hearts, if only they could make me feel like she did.

She was a hurricane, passionate and endless. She brought me to life with her laughter and her anger, her passion and violent adoration. Completely insane, I thought, nothing I could possibly want; but she was. She was everything. And me, I was nothing. I couldn’t understand why she chose me in the first place, and it wasn’t really a shock when she left. Completely and abjectly horrifying, yes, but not surprising. I couldn’t match her. Never.

But when I transform, I’m everything that she wanted. Or I can be. I know it. I get closer and closer every night.

*

          It’s impossible to describe the wolf with human language. He doesn’t think with words, it’s all knowledge and instinct. He acts definitively, every time. Thoughts flow like wind in all the colours of the forest, but it’s so easy to follow them. I am a current in the sea, moving without uncertainty and second guesses. The wolf, with his lack of words, has limitless power.

She gave me a gift, when she came into my life. I had been drifting for years, weightless, dull and alone, and she lit a fire in my lungs. What started as a spark the first moment she looked at me spread into a roaring inferno. And when she left, she gave me a different kind of gift. She made certain that the fire she had stoked so lovingly could never be extinguished. Binding it to the moon, she left me with endless fuel to feed the flames.

I imagine that she’s watching me while I hunt, drinking it all in from some hidden distance, my stalker, my spy. The woman me inside lurches forward with perverse excitement as the wolf takes his first bite, an exhibitionist. I know she can see me, and so I do my best to impress her. A sensual and intricate dance with a screaming partner; blood like tears and sweat, hard earned. Satisfying.

After, I lounge and gasp for air, letting my tight muscles unwind from the stretch and pull of our choreography. As silent as the body before me, I feast, glutting on clotted blood. Languidly, I peel up the meat in strips.

When I hunt, I find the girls who look like her. Skinny matchstick legs and bright coloured clothes; wide open smiles and that hard edge of confidence. I stalk them, the way that she stalked me, and they never expect it when they fall. When I pull them down.

It always takes them a moment to scream.

There’s excitement in the hunt. The agony of transformation has just barely faded, and then there’s the adrenaline of the chase. I make it slow. I follow them through my city, and they never see me coming. I know the side streets and alleys, every single one. In the hazy yellow glow of store fronts and street lamps, with my paws whispering on the damp concrete, I weave through the familiar labyrinth, drawing closer and closer in ever tightening circles.

I love the chase; I love the thrill of my city, the smells and sights as I stalk through the shadows. The attack, too. My heart races for the violence, the rusty blood and the rage that registers as bright flashes of colour. Pressing my face into their soft necks, lost in the nest of their hair with their velvety skin under my paws. My heart races, and it’s all heat and open mouths.

But it’s not the same as it was with her. The yearning in my body doesn’t work for them.

All of my pleasure turns to disappointment in one sickening twist. I want to kill them, each and every one, for daring to try to be like her. They’ll never be like her. But if I can kill them all, with teeth and claws, the gifts she gave me – well, then maybe I can be her. And when I am, I’ll never be alone again.

*

          When the hunt is over, I crawl back to my apartment to lick my wounds. I lie in the darkness, missing the thoughtlessness of the wolf. When I’m a woman, she’s all I can think about, her name beating like a pulse in my brain. Every room is ripe with the scent of her perfume and the dreamlike blur of memories. I get lost in it.

And when the memories run out, I think of her wolf. God, I wish she would have let me see her. The thought of it takes me over, completely.

I wonder what she would have smelled like to my beautiful canine nose. I wonder what her fur would feel like under my tongue. I want to see her run on sleek paws and leap with white fangs gleaming, keeping pace with me through the city. I want to take down those girls with her at my side, and lick the blood from her muzzle.

When it’s all too much to bear, I drag my inadequate human body out onto the balcony. The roar of the streets below and the cold night air soothe my aching muscles. I look up at the polluted, starless sky, and I think about being without her.

It isn’t long before the transformation comes again, and leaping over the railing, I take off running. She didn’t stay to see what she created, but she gave me the wolf.

He owns this city now.

© – Alyssa Cooper 2013

Photography by Adam Zivo. Click here to view more of Adam’s work or to contact.